Catalogs and Guides
The Newberry actively collects and preserves books, manuscripts, maps, and other printed materials related to the history and culture of Western Europe and the Americas. Most of the Newberry’s materials are housed in a climate-controlled stacks facility adjacent to the main library building, and are retrieved by staff upon request. Researchers will need to consult catalogs and guides to locate materials relevant to their research.
Not sure where to start? Reference staff are available to help, visit our Contact a Librarian page.
Read the Newberry’s statement on potentially offensive materials and descriptions.
The Newberry’s Online Catalog is the primary tool for identifying and locating resources relevant to your research. On June 24th, 2020, the Newberry implemented Primo VE, a discovery service, which provides one-stop searching of the library’s physical book and archival collections, as well as digital resources. For more information about how to use Primo VE, see our research guide.
There are some materials that are not represented in the online catalog, and these can be found using other online tools and print catalogs (see below).
The items represented in the Newberry’s online catalog are also included in I-Share, the catalog for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). They are also included in the free and subscription versions of OCLC’s WorldCat.
Online Tools and Guides
Search or Browse all Modern Manuscript Collection Abstracts (summary descriptions of almost all collections, often with links to more detailed online inventories and collection-level catalog records).
Search across the online inventories and catalog records of many Modern Manuscript Collections via ArchiveGrid (the best way to conduct an in-depth search of collection content).
Search for Modern Manuscripts in the Online Catalog (catalog records describing individual manuscript items or collections, often with links to more detailed online inventories).
Searching for electronic journal articles is now integrated with catalog searching through Primo VE, the Newberry’s main catalog interface. Search results can include electronic journal articles along with physical print and archival materials in the Newberry’s collection or you can choose to limit results to just electronic resources. Please note that you must be in the Newberry Library building to access content from our subscription databases.
Newberry librarians have compiled bibliographies, checklists, links to articles about our holdings, and other research guides to assist you with locating information in our collections. Browse our Research Guides alphabetically or by topic.
More than 1 million digitized images from our collections are available online through Internet Archive (including full text of thousands of books and pamphlets) or the CARLI Digital Collections website, run by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (including photographs, manuscripts, postcards, and other materials). A few of our city directories have been digitized, and these are freely available online in our Chicago Ancestors website.
Other online resources such as our Digital Publications and Research, Digital Collections for the Classroom, and Digital Exhibitions can also provide access to materials in our collections. You may find useful information on our Digital Resources, Research Guides, and Databases pages.
The checklist section in the Reference Center on the third floor holds a number of printed guides and finding aids to the library’s collections. Multi-volume sets catalog the Ayer, Wing, Graff, and Greenlee collections, and single-volume checklists detail the library’s medieval and modern manuscripts and numerous other topics. Descriptions of the Research Collections of the Newberry Library: A Bibliography is an extensive, though dated, description of Newberry holdings.
Some of the Newberry’s holdings are best described in these print tools. For example, only a small portion of our pre-1500 European manuscript books are described in the Newberry Online Catalog. To locate these, search Paul Saenger’s Catalogue of the Pre-1500 Western Manuscript Books at the Newberry Library (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).
The Newberry’s card catalog is located in the Reference Center on the third floor. In the card catalog, books and other materials acquired and cataloged before 1978 are interfiled by author, title, and subject headings. The catalog also contains a number of special files, including place of publication and chronology files. These files are incomplete and represent only a portion of our holdings. Shelf lists for the General Collection (this shelf list is located on the third floor) and the Special Collections (this shelf list is located on the fourth floor) provide for virtual browsing of the stacks.
The Newberry welcomes reference inquiries by mail, email, and telephone. Please Contact a Librarian with any questions or concerns regarding our collections, catalogs, or guides.